We shouldn't have risked Garner: Flanagan - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

We shouldn't have risked Garner: Flanagan

By David Beniuk 30/04/2011 12:05:55 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan admitted he may not have rushed star fullback Nathan Gardner back from injury if he had his time over again.

One of the NRL's early-season sensations in 2011, Gardner was expected to miss at least a match with an ankle injury he suffered against North Queensland last week.

But the whiz kid No.1 was a last-minute inclusion in the Sharks side to take on South Sydney on Friday and hobbled through the 31-12 loss.

In the pre-match warm-up and throughout the game Gardner never looked totally comfortable, however he doesn't appear to have suffered any significant further damage and is expected to be in much better shape for Cronulla's next clash with the Sydney Roosters, which comes after next weekend's bye.

Flanagan originally named Isaac Gordon at fullback, but left him out of the side entirely, when Gardner completed the warm-up.

However, the Sharks coach was probably beginning to regret the risky decision when winger John Williams left the field with a serious ankle injury after just 15 minutes, and it became clear Gardner wasn't his explosive self.

Flanagan said post-match that in hindsight it might have been the wrong call, but he stood by the reasons for his decision.

"He might have aggravated it late in the second half there but he was probably 90 per cent," Flanagan said.

"Nathan Gardner at 90 per cent is something we need, he is a tryscorer."

Meanwhile, Flanagan is urgently looking for quality backs prepared to make a mid-season switch to the luckless club.

He was quick to pinpoint his side's main weakness after the emphatic loss to Souths, the Sharks' fifth straight defeat.

Out of favour Canterbury utility Ben Roberts has been linked to Cronulla, but Flanagan said finishers were his top priority, a problem made bigger by the potential long-term loss of 2011 recruit Williams with ligament damage.

"It's pretty easy," Flanagan said. "I've got the forwards there, I just need some smart finishers, and (it's) obviously quality players in the backs I'll be looking for.

"We've got a bit of money left.

"I want to do the right thing there. I don't just want to go out and spend it for the sake of spending it.

"I want to make sure that I'm improving the club for obviously this year and in the next."

As well as winger Williams, Flanagan brought veteran centre Colin Best back to the club this season while former Wests Tigers regular first grader Dean Collis is languishing in the NSW Cup.

"Some of the players there are a little bit out of form at the moment, my finishers and my backs," Flanagan said.

The Sharks also sent out a mid-season SOS last year when ex-coach Ricky Stuart parachuted former NRL rookie of the year Tim Smith into the halves.

That move was far from a raging success and Smith played his first top level match of 2011 on Friday night because of an injury to Albert Kelly.

Cronulla reportedly have their eye on centres Beau Champion (Melbourne), Junior Sa'u (Newcastle) and Joel Reddy (Parramatta) - none of whom are likely to be released from their contracts which expire at the end of this season.

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